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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Further Adventures of Mirinda Piper

Mirinda Piper (later Andrews) was the eldest living child of the traveling Baptist preacher Beverly Bradley Piper and his first wife, Delia Deborah Norton. At the beginning of 1853 the family were living in Farmersville, Indiana, a tiny town in the southwest corner of the state, close to the junction of the Wabash and Ohio Rivers. Mirinda turned 13 in July of that year.

We had now been living three years in one place, longer than I had ever lived in the same place before. Father was getting restless. The Baptists where he and Mother visited in the spring before in southern Ohio were urging him to come and preach for them. You will take notice that as they paid no fixed salary a preacher was not at all bound to any one church. If he wanted to move he just packed up and went. There was sometimes a little grumbling. Father always seemed to be in good demand among his members, and I have been told by some of them that he ranked as a first class preacher among them. Mother was always ready to go when Father was, and we children liked the novelty and change, though I disliked leaving some of my friends. Father sold the farm and we concluded to move to Hamilton, Ohio.

Steamship at Mt. Vernon, Indiana
Where we had been living, we were very near the Ohio River. Mount Vernon is situated on its banks, and we started from there on a steamboat. We went as far as Louisville and stopped at an old friend of Father’s who had often urged him to visit him with his family. We stayed there one day and one night. I don’t know how the rest of the family enjoyed themselves, but I wasn’t very happy there, although the family treated us very kindly. The man was a wealthy provision dealer named A. L. Shotwell[i]. Their house was far grander than anything I had ever seen. They had ten Negro house servants (slaves). The children had beautiful clothes, and altogether I felt very shabby and out of my element and was very glad when we started for the wharf to get on a steamboat bound for Cincinnati. The young lady of the family presented me with ten paper covered novels, but Mother burnt them before I had time to read but one or two.

This is the route up the Ohio River from Mt. Vernon
to Hamilton, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati. It would
have been over 300 miles to go this way.
Again we were on the river, and how grand the ladies’ cabin was—but I enjoyed everything on the boat, because the feeling was very different from being in a private house that I had no share in—in a certain way I had a share in the boat, it belonged to me quite as much as it did to the other passengers. We arrived in Cincinnati and did not stay there any length of time but went immediately to the cars. It was the first time any of us children had seen a railroad train. My brother Asa was very much surprised that the cars did not travel faster. “Why,” he said, “I thought they almost flew.”

We went to a station beyond Hamilton where Mother and we children were to stay with a Baptist family while Father went preaching for two weeks. We found a very pleasant old couple with two old maid daughters to receive us. They lived on a farm in a large stone house, and had an abundance of everything in the way of good things to eat. Lots of stock, two fine carriages, etc. While we were there sister Annie had scarlet fever, but Mother cured her with water as she always did any of us when we were sick.

When our visit was out there, another farmer’s family invited us to stay with them while Father made arrangements for us to go to housekeeping. At this place, Mr. Potter’s, we children had a grand time. There were two girls near my age, Ann and Belle, and we spent most of the time roaming over the farm or in the woods, or playing in the large barn. School commenced before we left and I went with the girls a few days. There were two young gentlemen in the family, one of them was very deaf. The house was a large red brick structure. They also owned two carriages so we could all go to church at once if we wished.

Finally we went to housekeeping in Hamilton, Butler County, Ohio. The town was built on two sides of a river like Rockford. One side was called Rossville, we lived in Rossville. A few years later that name was given up and it was all called Hamilton. A large covered bridge spanned the river and I had to cross it every day to school. There was a Young Ladies’ Academy on the other side which I attended. I liked the teacher, he was a white-haired old man, and very kind if we tried to learn, and very sarcastic if we did not. We lived in a very comfortable cottage with a hall and three rooms below and two rooms above.

Two blocks away lived a family named Longfellow. I visited there quite often, and liked Jane Longfellow very much, though she was several years older than I. She had a brother Jim that I did not see much of. I met him years afterward in Illinois, after we were both married. I took lessons in crayon drawing that summer to please Mother, but it did not amount to anything.

Mother’s health gave way and she went to a water cure establishment near Cincinnati. She was there only two weeks when the building took fire and burnt down. Then she came home not much benefited. None of us were satisfied; we did not like the place and did not care for the people who were strangers to us. I think Father was a homesick as the rest, but he did not say so. We settled in March, and by September were wild to go back to Indiana or Illinois, we did not care which. So we packed up and started.

We went to Cincinnati on the cars and took a steam boat for Mount Vernon. The boat stayed three days at the wharf after we went on, loading for New Orleans, it was tiresome, but we were all so glad to get started for our old stamping ground that we did not complain. At last we arrived in Mount Vernon, and went to Mr. Barter’s where we were cordially received. We had left a large black dog there when we left in the spring, and he was so delighted to see us, he nearly went wild.

Father owned a small piece of land adjoining Grandpa’s with a house on it, we decided to go there for a year. We hired a hack to take us to Cynthiana (Indiana) where an Association was to be held and spent the week there. Oh how happy I was, there were many of our friends there, young and old. It seemed so good to be among people we knew and not strangers, as we were in Ohio. After the Association was over, two of the Baptist brethren took us in to Grandpa’s, and we went to housekeeping in our new home.

What a lonesome looking place it was, and the house was the tiniest little two roomed affair ever lived in. But in my life I never spent as happy hours as there. There was no other house in sight. There was no cleared land on the place except a little garden spot. A little cowshed and corn crib were all the out buildings there were, no cellar, no modern improvements. The well stood in the front yard and looked like the well in the picture of the “Old Oaken Bucket.” There was a grass grown road in front of the house which nobody travelled. If it led anywhere I never heard of it. Whenever anyone came to our house they went back the same way they came, which was the road that passed by Grandpa’s, leading to Russellville, three miles away on the Wabash River. In front and on two sides of the house was a dense wood of oak, hickory, and a few persimmon trees, wild grape vines abounded. Our only view was from one end of the house which looked over part of Grandpa’s farm.

His house was out of sight quarter mile away. Quarter of a mile farther on lived Uncle William Norton, and still farther on across the creek lived two old great aunts of mine, in houses quite near each other. One was a widow (Sarah Norton Tobey) and her children were all married, the other (Lydia Norton Grimes) was living with her third husband, she had no children of her own, but had an adopted daughter and a step daughter, whom I was quite intimate with. Uncle William had married when quite young a lady he almost adored, but she only lived a year, she and her baby boy dying at the same time, and leaving her husband nearly paralyzed with grief. He lived a widower ten years, then married a young widow with one little girl.

Soon after we got settled Father cut a bad gash in his foot which kept him in the house for several weeks. During the winter we children went to school to a young married man, named Highsmith. He taught the three R’s, reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic, and spelling. He asked me to study grammar, as I had studied it for three years he thought I could teach him, so I did. On Friday afternoons we would spell each other down. I enjoyed the term very much.

This summer Father took a long trip east. He visited Washington, spent some time in Virginia and New York states. In all he was gone three months. Mother and we four children stayed alone. Mother was courageous, and we never thought of being afraid. We spent much of the time in the deep woods which nearly surrounded the house. The little children went to school about a mile from home. We kept no stock except one cow, and some chickens, and we had such a tiny house our work was light. There was a terrible drought that summer all through southern Illinois, scarcely any rain fell for three months. If we had tried to raise anything we would have failed. Father said it was a good thing he took his trip that summer.

After he returned he visited some churches in Odes County, Illinois, and they urged him very strongly to come and preach for them. We had been living in Crawford County a year, and he was anxious to move, so we went to my Uncle Nathaniel Parker’s in Charleston, Coles County, where we made a short visit, and then went to housekeeping in town. Here was another complete change from the deep woods to a flourishing town. We rented a cottage, found some very pleasant neighbors, and were very well contented, at least we children were. The church Father was pastor of was just across the street from our house, so it was handy to say the least.

Father had a cousin who lived in town; he was a prominent lawyer and had been a member of Congress from that District for two or three terms. His wife was Senator Colquitt’s daughter [Elizabeth H. Colquitt, 1836-1895], and sister to Alfred Colquitt who several years later was Governor of Georgia. Cousin’s name was O. B. [Orlando Bell] Ficklin. He had three little boys [Augustus, Walter, and Alfred], and he and Father asked me to teach the two families of children that winter, and I did. Our school was held in a small room in Mr. Ficklin’s house. His boys and my two brothers and little sister comprised the school. They learned fast and gave me little trouble. In the spring Father and Cousin presented me with a silk dress for my services, which I was very proud of. Mrs. Ficklin was a great reader, and always bought the new novels as soon as they came out; she insisted on loaning her books to me, and I lived in a seventh heaven amongst the books. I suppose I read more than I ought, but life was worth living then. Although I was young, I attended several parties during the winter. Mrs. Ficklin gave one and invited me. She was always very kind to me.

My Uncle Parker lived nearly a mile from town in a large red brick house. I liked to go out there, as there were several children, and we had grand times. The children were not my cousins, as Aunt Mirinda, my Mother’s sister, was Mr. Parkers second wife, and stepmother to the children [Lucy Mirinda Norton Dillworth had married Nathaniel Parker on May 20, 1852]. They had a large orchard of very fine apples and Uncle Parker gave Father all we could use. The two eldest boys were grown up and rather wild, and I did not like them very well, but there was always good times there. Jane Parker was about my age, we liked each other, but she had the advantage of me, as her father was wealthy and mine was poor. She had many more and richer dresses than I, and was the happy possessor of a diamond ring which I admired exceedingly.

There was a family named Jones who lived six miles from town, members of Father’s church, where I loved to go dearly. Mrs. Jones would have me come out and stay a week as often as Mother would spare me. While we lived at that place there was a man hung by a mob near our house. We lived on a hill and at the bottom of the hill he was hung on an oak tree. He had killed his father-in-law and was tried and found guilty, and sentenced to be hung, but got a few weeks reprieve from the Governor, which so exasperated the people that they took him out of jail and hung him. We were all very much horrified about it, and could hardly sleep a wink that night. There was much excitement in town and scarcely anything else talked about for several days.

During the summer and fall we had visitors from Crawford County; Mother’s two aunts came, and Grandfather spent some time with us and Aunt Mirinda. Also, Father’s brother’s widow, Mrs. Ann Piper from South Bend, Indiana, spent a few days with us. I never saw her but that one time, her husband had been dead some years, his name was Edward Piper.

Two-horse carriage
I don’t remember anything of importance that happened the first few months of this year. We had a great deal of company and went a great deal. When Father attended his two-day meetings in the country we often went with him, all six of us in the two-horse carriage, and we would spend Saturday night with some good Baptist family and come home Sunday evening.

The summer and fall of this year was very sickly indeed. In August cholera broke out in town, and in a panic Father loaded us all into the carriage, sent a driver with us and started us to Grandfather’s 80 miles away. We stayed there several weeks, and when the cholera scare was over, he sent for us. When we returned home there was sickness in nearly every family in town—chills and fever, or some kind of fever. Our family all fell sick and I came near dying. Father thought I was dying one night, and I have often thought how easy it would have been for me to go then, and I hope when my time comes I will be as reconciled to death as I was that night. But we all recovered when frost came. Uncle Parker’s family was sick and he died. His daughter and son-in-law came back from Texas, and Aunt Mirinda, not caring to live with her stepchildren, came and spent the winter with us. She was sick most of the winter.

Towards spring we had a visitor from Virginia, a gentleman who wanted to buy Father’s little farm near Grandpa’s. He had never seen the land, so Father took him in the carriage, and Aunt Mirinda and I went along to visit Grandpa. Fancy starting for an 80-mile drive in the dead of winter! But we were well wrapped and enjoyed the trip very, very much. We were two days on the road, stayed two days at Grandpa’s, and were two days coming home, and were back home inside of a week. The last day before we reached home was very cold, and it was not so funny. Uncle Louis Norton had moved to the town of Robinson and Uncle William’s family was keeping house for Grandpa. I went to two or three parties that winter and had a good time as I usually had.

[i] Col. Alfred Lawrence Shotwell was born in Kentucky in 1809. He married Gabriella Breckenridge and had the following children: Stephen (1830), William (1835), unnamed daughter (1838) who married Robert Cannon, Alfred Annie (1843). Annie is the woman whose husband disappeared; there is an article about it that appeared in the Rogersville Herald (transcribed below). The next younger child was Frances T (1849) who died at age 19: “On the day preceding her death, she had been out to invite some lady friends to a social party to be given next day at her father’s house, and having walked much in the city that evening, on going to bed she inhaled chloroform to quiet her nerves, and was found dead in bed the next morning.” A.L. Shotwell’s youngest was John T (1853), who seems to have had a normal life (unusual in this family).
“GABE TATE’S ROMANCE: Married, Divorced, Given Up for Dead, and Again Married to the Same Woman. (From the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.)
“The death of Gabe Tate at Henderson, Ky., brings to mind the romantic career of his life. Tate was born and raised in this country. His father was one of the prosperous planters of ante bellum days. The large tract of land he owned was in Walnut Bottom, in the most productive part of this section. He had a large number of slaves and, better still, a large bank account. Gabe had grown in an atmosphere of luxury until luxuries were common. He had been accustomed to having his own way and to have every want supplied. When his father died the estate was divided between him and his sister, Mrs. Dr. J. A. Harding, who had gone to the home of her husband in Jefferson county, now a part of Louisville, Ky. There he met Miss Annie Shotwell, the daughter of Col. A.L. Shotwell, a man who was rich in a dozen different ways. His steam interest was only second to his landed estate, and his commission merchants business but barely outstripping his mining rights. The vast coal fields of Union county, now owned by Brown & Jones, the Pittsburgh coal kings, were his individually. At that time, in 1862, there were only two coal mines operated on the Ohio River below Pittsburgh, Pa., the one at Cannelton, Ind., and the Shotwell mines in Union county. So exhaustless is the supply of coal and so superior the quality that a railroad has just been completed to the mines from this city. Fabulous fortunes have been made from the fleets of coal sent South from these mines. It is seen by this what Oriental grandeur was in the reach of Gabe Tate and Miss Shotwell, with their fortunes, when united in marriage at the residence of Col. Shotwell, in Louisville. After marriage Mr. and Mrs. Tate went to the Shotwell mines, and all went well. Two or more children blessed their union. [One day] Mr. Tate left his home, and to this day the public do not know the cause. Surmises were plentiful, but no knowledge of the cause was ever had. It was known that his estate was gone, but that was of small importance for his wife was rich.
               “Some time after Mr. Tate left home Mrs. Tate procured a divorce, and shortly afterwards married Sam Churchill, a prosperous planter, who had lived near the mines, and with whom she was acquainted during her married life at the mines. In the meantime Andrew Tate, an old bachelor uncle, had died and left his vast estate to Gabe and his sister. Hugh Tate, another bachelor uncle, soon died, and added his fortune to that of his brother Andrew for the benefit of his nephew and niece. Not long after that Miss Nancy Tate died, and left her increased fortune from her own right and undivided interests in the estates of her two brothers, Andrew and Hugh, to Gabe Tate and his sister. These changes covered a period of nearly ten years. Notwithstanding the fact that considerable advertising had been done, nothing could be heard of Gabe Tate, and he was suspected to be dead. At last he was heard from at Cairo, Ill., and found. Arriving home, he found himself a rich man again. He wrote to his wife to send the children to him at Evansville, Ind., as he wanted to see them. She met him there with the children. Shortly afterwards a divorce was procured from Sam Churchill, the second husband, and speedily following that divorce was the marriage of Gabe Tate to the same woman who had procured a divorce from him years before.”

More posts about Mirinda Piper:

One-Room Schools, a Romance, an Earthquake

Mirinda and Slavery

The Further Adventures of Mirinda Piper (part 1)

Mirinda Piper's Adventures as a Young Lady of the 1850s

Memoirs of Mirinda Piper Andrews: Married Life 1858 - 1872

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